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Audit identifies gaps in training of city staff

Report notes out-of-date reporting system, no way to properly track employee training

An audit of city services has found that Oshawa has a number of gaps in its health and safety protocols, including what the auditor calls “a lack of oversignt across the entire organization.”

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

For the second time in three months, an audit has discovered serious issues within the inner workings of city hall – this time, it’s about health and safety.

In December, The Oshawa Express reported that an audit by KMPG had found issues within the city’s real estate function that saw tenants incorrectly billed for leases or not being billed at all, leading to an $82,000 shortfall. Now, KPMG’s latest report has highlighted “a number of gaps” within the city’s heath and safety protocols, mainly, “a lack of oversight across the entire organization.”

Most concerning was the lack of  any system for tracking and making sure staff members are present and receiving the proper training they need to do their jobs.

“There is limited oversight of whether training is completed and specific H&S requirements across different departments,” the report reads.

KPMG auditor Tony Malfara referred further requests for comment on this document back to the city.

The audit also discovered that the city continues to rely on an archaic paper-based system for recording any health and safety incidents. While not out of line with other municipalities, the system prevents the city from truly keeping track of health and safety trends or issues and, for the most part, keeps senior managers out of the loop due to a lack of an efficient reporting mechanism.

“Reporting is not routinely produced or easily available on H&S training completion or incidents to provide the council, corporate leadership team (CLT) and other senior directors of the corporation,” the audit states.

KPMG also ran against another brick wall when it attempted to obtain all the proper information during the audit for incidents or staff attendance at training courses.

“We were not able to be provided with a complete list of all incidents and no overall training IT system exists to record attendance.”

A similar issue was raised during the real estate audit when KPMG was unable to obtain a full list of tenants and clients.

The city attempted to use its PeopleSoft software in 2014 for recording this information, but backed off when it couldn’t be configured properly to do so.

For that reason, the main recommendations, which the city is beginning to implement, will include a new system for recording and reporting on this information, including quarterly reports coming to council twice a year. By the end of 2018, the city plans to have a permanent solution to the problem, and will also be looking at developing a checklist for different branches to use to ensure staff members have attended the proper training. The Human Resources department and the Corporate Leadership Team will also be creating an escalation process for penalizing staff who haven’t completed mandatory training.

“I’m happy with what’s in the audit. No organization is perfect and improvement is always constant,” says Mayor John Henry.

“This is an organization that evolves every day. So by bringing in someone that can look at multi-parts of the corporation at the same time, we’re able to do great things and it will be addressed in the not so distant future.”

When pressed on the appearance of an on-going issue within the city’s records, and the inability to provide the information to auditors, Henry said that, while he was concerned, the issue would not impact the completeness of the audits.

“Am I concerned that there’s an inability to get what they needed to be? Yes, and it will be addressed, I can guarantee that,” he says.

“KPMG would never put their name on a document that wasn’t to their satisfaction. Auditors are professionals that are governed not only by the rules of the company they work for, but also by the letters that they carry after their name.”